Mir Jansen arrived in the UK from Amsterdam in 1987 and moved to Sheffield from Norwich in 1991 to study fine art at Psalter Lane Art College, choosing the city because of its proximity to the Peak District.
She first shared a student house in Hunters Bar and worked as a cleaner in the morning before starting at college at 10am. She completed her degree in 1995 and then had a year in Manchester to complete an MA. Mir is now based at Persistence Works and has particular responsibility for the starter studio and artists’ residency programmes.
She is also a member of the Galvanize Sheffield steering group and is actively involved with the festival celebrating the breadth and wealth of contemporary and traditional metalwork which last year attracted more than 180,000 visitors. This year she has co-curated the Interchange exhibition at Butcher Works which brings together the work of 26 silversmiths with links to Sheffield. In all, around 100 metal and silversmiths are taking part in the event which runs until April 24.
It’s where I have worked for over 10 years. I love my job and have wonderful colleagues and of course there are now over 90 artists and crafts people with us. Our big Open Studios event always takes place on the third weekend of November when we invite members of the public into the artists’ studios to see how they work and what they make. We now have three sites including our brand new craft studios at Manor Oaks. Later this year we will have an additional 10 studios for artists in Parson Cross, part of the new SOAR Works. From May 7 we will also stage our very first selling exhibition of ceramics and prints at Persistence Works Studios on Brown Street, curated by gallerytop based in Rowsley.
THE LANGUAGE, THE PEOPLE
When I first arrived in Sheffield I didn’t understand the local accent and once asked for directions and was told to go down “Holland Road” but I never found it. Only weeks later did I discover that they had directed me to The Hole in the Road, a very well known underpass in Sheffield at that time.
I have had some wonderful Sheffield neighbours in these 20 years but Sylvia Baxter from Artisan View in Heeley was one of the best. She was the one who taught me all the Sheffield phrases like “t’int in tin”. She knew everyone in our street and kept an eye on the most vulnerable. People like her are the glue that bonds communities.
I have always been very keen on cinema. In my home town of Den Helder there wasn’t much to do for teenagers but it did have a small alternative cinema. It was cold and had very uncomfortable wooden chairs. For a few guilders you got yourself a beer and enjoyed the film of the week. I’m glad that the Showroom now allows you to take a beer into the auditorium – it makes watching a great film just that little bit better
I like pubs and live quite close to Kelham Island with the Fat Cat, Kelham Island Tavern for truly great ale. It took me a while to acquire a taste for real ale. When I first arrived in the UK I only drank Mackeson Stout. I was told that it was a drink that old ladies drank – it obviously helped them to reach that age. It is a bit too sweet for me now I have got used to the real stuff.
I came to Sheffield for the art college and the Peak District. Sheffield has some good, albeit very well-hidden venues to see contemporary visual art. Apart from being involved with the Galvanize Festival which celebrates a particular craft, I’m also a director of Sheffield Contemporary Art Forum. Together with representatives from S1, BLOC, Sheffield Museums, Site Gallery, Sheffield Hallam University and some independent artists, we organise the Art Sheffield festival every two years, another great example of how different organisations in Sheffield choose to work together to make the bigger events happen; there is a great collaborative spirit here.
I have lived in Hunters Bar, Heeley, Meersbrook and near Nether Edge but in 2006 I moved to Burngreave with my lovely daughter, Saskia. I can honestly say that I have made more friends here in a shorter space of time than anywhere else in Sheffield. It has a wonderfully vibrant community. I love the warm naan breads from my local ‘world foods’ store, parties at Annie’s house, the clothes swaps at Stacey’s, Mick’s gig club and Abbeyfield Park’s community events. And I love our little local running club which doesn’t have a name but keeps on running
So cliché but yes, so true. There are no hills to speak of in The Netherlands. Maybe that is why I love the fact that there is a hilly national park on Sheffield’s doorstep. I’m there out walking or running on most weekends. It is also how I met my partner, Pete, who is a keen walker, film buff and beer drinker. How lucky can a girl get?
I’m a bit off and on with running but in the summer months I often take part in the Trunce Race near Penistone. It takes place on a Monday evening, either once or twice a month. It is only a few miles long but it is a tough little race over hills, through rivers and fields. I love the atmosphere of the 200 or so people taking part. I’m not very fast but I think it’s right nice and (a bit) dirty.